A Streak of Winning! #sfgiants

So, um, yeah, we all saw this coming, right? A nice little six game winning streak after the wheels completely fell off the wagon. Baseball.

I was going to spend this week’s post on evaluating the pitching, but the streak, plus holiday travel, will not make that possible, so just a couple quick observations, and we’ll get back to the pitchers during the All-Star break.

  1. Denard Span and Hunter Pence obviously read this blog, and took it personally when I said they were clearly the problem with the offense. Span slashed .417/.481/.667 this week, and just looked like a good major league baseball player. He lifted his WAR total from -0.6, to -0.1, which essentially puts him back at league average. If he keeps this up he will blast right back into positivity. Pence had a far less impressive line, but played good defense (finally) and was a significant part of the 13 run outburst on Friday night.
  2. Overall, the Giants scored 38 runs this week, and played much, much better defense.
  3. As important as that is, the Giants’ formula begins and ends with starting pitching. This week the Giants got two more excellent starts from Jeff Samardzija who quickly becoming untradeable, a quality start from Matt Cain, a very quality start from Ty Blach (considering how the first inning of that game went), and good enough starts from Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore. There are still too many question marks here for this streak to carry on much longer, but while the offense is humming like this, quality starts will keep the club competitive.
  4. One final note. No one should get overly giddy about Sam Dyson’s first two saves. Not in the sense of “new closer” or anything like that. But a good Sam Dyson will go a long way towards stabilizing the bullpen of the future. His positive performance is a good, good thing.

If the good times continue to roll, how do you evaluate the 2017 Giants? It seems the brass consider the core to be good enough to keep together, tweak a bit, and hope for better luck next year. Since that is the case, there’s nothing to root for here other than the team to keep playing like this. If these are the guys we are going to ride and die with, they may as well be good.

Speaking of good, Buster Posey: starting All-Star!

Advertisements

Swoon #sfgiants #weekinreview

Well, not much to update from my last, midweek, post. Suffice to say, June is not off to a great start.

It seemed like it might be, though. Ty Blach was outstanding in Philly on Friday night, and the offense, somehow, scored 10 runs. But, then it was right back in the tank with a poor offensive showing on Saturday, followed by all kinds of ugly Sunday.

We said the Giants needed a 5-2 start to the month on the quest for .500. That would mean a sweep in Milwaukee. At this point, splitting the series and getting back home would seem to be a big huge step in the right direction.

I am going to continue focusing on how the Giants can get themselves back in position (i.e. .500) for a stretch run, and try as much as possible to avoid thinking about the future, but if things continue to go south there are some other subplots to root for. I won’t get into all of those, but a couple should be highlighted now because of their win-win nature.

  • The resurgence of Denard Span: root for this because (a) a good Denard Span helps the Giants win, and (b) he might become a trade piece if he keeps this up and stays healthy.
  • The Ty Blach story: he’s not getting traded anywhere, and it’s been a while since the Giants have produced a home-grown starting pitcher. The Giants could/should have some holes in the rotation to fill this offseason and Blach could make the future a bit more palatable.
  • Left Field: at this point I almost don’t care who it is, but Austin Slater seems like a nice guy, so root for him, really anyone, to take ownership of this position.

That’s about it for now.

Giants have 4 against the Brewers and then 3 at home against the Twins. We said they needed to go 3-1 in Mil and 2-1 against Min, so we’ll keep hope alive for the first series, and up it to a sweep against the Twins.

A Glimmer of Hope in a Sea of Sadness #sfgiants #weekinreview

The Giants started this past week off with two miserable losses at the hands of the New York Mets (themselves a mess). This was coming off a weekend drubbing in Cincinnati, and it also involved the news that super-expensive closer/savior Mark Melancon was hurt (a 10 day DL stint with an elbow issue).

It is not hard to say this was the low point in the season.

And it lended itself to the ongoing conversation about what was the most surprising/disappointing element of the season thus far:

  • The injuries? Consider the Giants lost to DL time already: Buster Posey, Madison Bumgarner, Brandon Crawford, Will Smith, Denard Span, and Jarrod Parker. Not to mention Aaron Hill and Michael Morse.
  • The timing of the injuries: Posey getting beaned on the head during the home opener. Madison Bumargner getting hurt on a dirt bike during a short road trip. Jarrod Parker getting hurt running into a wall. Both Crawford and Melancon gowing down after tough loses (literally adding injury to insult).
  • The horrendous nature of LF. One of the answers to LF is now out of baseball (Chris Marrero), and the lot of blokes trotted out there already has been amazing and laughable.
  • The maddening inconsistency of the starting pitching (especially Matt Moore and Jeff Samardzija who should know better).
  • The ongoing woes of the bullpen. (Meanwhile Santiago Casilla was putting together a nice little season on the other side of the Bay).
  • The feckless performance and weird nature of the lineups Bruce Bochy has been cobbling together.

Whatever it was that topped your list, Tuesday May 9th was a dark day.

Then the Giants went out and won on Wednesday. And they won in a totally 2017 Giants way. The game was inappropriately close for a long time, only broken open in the top of the 9th by Christian Arroyo (bases clearing double!), who hasn’t set the world on fire but certainly has a sense of timing sorely lacking by the rest of this team.

The Giants gave Derek Law a very comfortable first save opportunity, an opportunity he nearly blew, but hey, a 6-5 win is still a win.

The Giants then returned home and summarily lost the opener of another series with the Reds, 3-2, a game “blown” by the bullpen.

But then some things started to turn around. The news on Mark Melancon wasn’t so bad. Brandon Crawford and Denard Span returned from the DL. Even Santiago Casilla blew a save for the A’s in a totally Santiago Casilla way.

It is probably too much to read into this, and the next two weeks could easily seal the Giants’ fate as a bad team, but there was something to that 17 inning game on Friday night.

When Buster Posey hit the game winning walk off home run he reacted in a very un-Buster like manner: his shrug of relief felt bigger than the moment itself. It felt like “screw this sucking we’ve been doing, we’re better than this.” Certainly it was relief after squatting for 17 innings, but, again it looked cathartic beyond even the context of that particular game. Who can know.

What we do know is the Giants backed that win up with two more victories, for the first 3 game win streak of the year (a damning statement in and of itself).

So what do we make of this, if anything?

First, the is the closest thing the Giants have had to their “real” lineup in a while (I know Pence has been out, but I said close). In particular, Denard Span has returned like a man on a mission. We all love the results, but he just looks better/happier/livelier.

Second, the Giants got 3 straight quality starts (including 2 from Moore and Samardzija).

Third, they hit some home runs (PTL!).

Fourth, the bullpen was quietly outstanding all weekend.

Finally, they made a few plays with the gloves as well.

I wrote this earlier in the year: winning always makes a baseball team look more energetic, but it certainly feels like that 17 inning game injected new life into this club in a paradoxical way.

Who knows what lies ahead? The next two weeks are full of good teams and tough match ups. This week alone is the Dodgers and Cardinals, two long time nemeses who will not show the least bit of mercy. This week could bring more positive vibes. It could just as easily bring an 0-6 disaster.

One can hope the Giants are able to win two series. 4-2 would put them at 19-26. If they can follow that up next week by splitting with the Cubs and winning the series over Atlanta they’d be 23-28.

If they are going to make 2017 a competitive year, they need to be .500 by July 1. That’s what we all need to hope for at this point.

#BEATLA